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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Zambia: MISA Statement on Press
Any links to other sites in this file from 1996 are not clickable,
given the difficulty in maintaining up-to-date links in old files.
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Zambia: MISA Statement on Press
Date Distributed (ymd): 961208

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) is a
non-governmental organisation promoting media freedom and
diversity in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)
region. For further information about MISA and/or the contents
of this letter, please contact MISA's Information Unit on Tel.
+264 61 232975, Fax. 248016,

David Lush
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
Private Bag 13386
Windhoek, Namibia
Tel. +264 61 232975, Fax. 248016


Dear Friends and Colleagues,

In recent years, media freedom, freedom of expression and
other basic human rights have come under increasing attack in
Zambia. As the attached chronology of recent events suggest,
the situation is set to deteriorate further in the wake of
Zambia's recent elections.

Already civic organisations and sections of the media are
suffering a back-lash from the authorities for questioning the
legitimacy of the elections. And yet less than 25 per cent of
eligible voters cast their ballot in the November 18 poll as
a result of flawed registration procedures, an opposition
boycott, as well as general voter apathy and disillusionment.
Former president Kenneth Kaunda, President Frederick Chiluba's
main opponent, was barred from contesting the presidency as a
result of a recent amendment to the constitution. There have
also been reports of irregularities in the voting process.

For these and other reasons, three Zambian non-governmental
organisations monitoring the elections declared that the poll
was neither free nor fair. Subsequently the newly-elected
government and supporters of the ruling party appear to have
launched a campaign to discredit these organisations and those
associated with them. This campaign could mark the start of a
renewed clamp-down on the government's opponents and its
critics, but more particularly sections of civil society - the
media included - which, given the lack of opposition members
in the newly-elected parliament, have become the last line of
defence for Zambia's fragile democracy.

The previous MMD government was found by the United Nations
Human Rights Committee in March to have failed on several
counts to honour Zambia's commitment to the Universal Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights. A pledge to uphold and promote
human rights was central to the MMD's election victory in
1991. However, human rights issues featured far less
prominently during this year's campaign.

Our fear is that human rights and those who set out to uphold
them are in danger of disappearing off the Zambian agenda.
Therefore we ask that you and your colleagues pay particular
attention to the situation unfolding in Zambia, and in coming
months add your support to the efforts of MISA, its affiliates
and other like-minded organisations to revive a culture of
human rights and democracy within Zambia.

Yours sincerely,


Chronology of recent events in Zambia (source of information
in brackets):

OCTOBER 23 - Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC)
Controller of Television, Ben Kangwa, is suspended following
the broadcast of a programme paid for by the opposition United
Independence Party (UNIP), in which UNIP President Kenneth
Kaunda explained his party's boycott of the forthcoming
elections. Officially, Kangwa is suspended for "contravening
ZNBC regulations" about the broadcast of paid-for programmes,
but the Zambian Independent Media Association
(ZIMA/MISA-Zambia) questions this: "In view of the numerous
ZNBC productions which have favoured the ruling party at the
expense of other parties...the penalty imposed on Mr Kangwa is
far too severe." Kangwa is re-instated the following week.

NOVEMBER 4 - The Opposition Alliance of parties boycotting the
forthcoming elections bans state media workers from covering
their activities. At a press conference, Alliance supporters
and their leaders, Kenneth Kaunda and former human rights
lawyer Rodger Chongwe, heckle and jeer journalists working for
ZNBC, the government-owned press and the state-run news
agency. Journalists working for the private media have
previously been treated in a similar way when attending press
conferences organised by the ruling Movement for Multi-Party
Democracy. (PAZA/MISA)

NOVEMBER 17: Ngande Mwanajiti, Chairperson of the
non-governmental Clean Campaign Committee (CCC), says he is
being followed by state security agents. "I know they are
pursuing me because I do not agree with the present status
quo," Mwanajiti is quoted in The Post as saying. "They think
I have an agenda." (The Post).

NOVEMBER 18: UNIP politician Eve Kazembe, claims her life is
in danger as a result of her participation in her party's
election boycott. Kazembe tells The Post that her house had
been burgled twice since April, and that state security agents
were following her. She also claims that unidentified people
had tried to set fire to her house on November 17 (The Post).

NOVEMBER 19: Members of the opposition Zambia Democratic
Congress (ZADECO) force their way into the Kitwe television
studios of the state-owned Zambia National Broadcasting
Corporation (ZNBC). ZNBC spokesperson, Keith Nalumango, tells
ZIMA that the group of about 10 ZADECO members entered the
studios at about 02:00 and demanded to appear live on
television to protest about vote rigging in the previous day's
elections. At the time the ZNBC was broadcasting the election
results. Police finally persuade the protestors to leave the
studios (MISA).

NOVEMBER 19: MMD provincial Deputy Minister, Anoshi Chipawa,
threatens to dismiss a reporter working for the
state-controlled Zambia Information Services (ZIS) for failing
to file a story about his re-election. Chipawa enters the ZIS
office together with MMD supporters and insists that he would
"fire" reporter Musole Kaambeu. Permanent Secretary in the
Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Laura Harrison, says
her ministry took exception to journalists being harassed.

NOVEMBER 20: Police question Jowie Mwiinga, Editor of the
CCC-funded Monitor newspaper, in connection with a story
published in the November 21-28 edition of the paper in which
opposition Zambia Democratic Congress (ZDC) President Dean
Mung'omba urged foreigners to leave Zambia. Mung'omba was
quoted in the story as calling on the government to nullify
the November 18 elections "or face the consequences of their
actions". (MISA)

NOVEMBER 21: The Opposition Alliance writes to South African
President Nelson Mandela, who is Chairperson of the Southern
African Development Community (SADC), and other regional heads
of state warning of a possible military takeover in Zambia. In
his letter, Alliance  Chairperson Rodger Chongwe warns that if
timely action was not taken to solve Zambia's political
impasse, "what has happened to the north of the country will
definitely happen here". (The Post).

NOVEMBER 22: Police search the offices of the CCC-funded
Monitor Newspaper in Lusaka and seize computer disks, letters
to the editor and various press releases. Monitor editor,
Jowie Mwiinga tells ZIMA: "The police didn't seem to have a
clear picture of what they were looking for. They just picked
anything - giving an impression that they wanted to intimidate
and harass us."  The search of the Monitor co-incides with the
searches of the CCC's offices and those of the Inter-Africa
Network for Human Rights and Development (AFRONET), which
share a building with the Monitor. Offices of the Zambia
Independent Monitoring Team (ZIMT) are also searched. (MISA).

NOVEMBER 25: Police obtain court orders freezing the bank
accounts of three non-governmental organisations involved in
election monitoring - the CCC, AFRONET and the ZIMT. At the
same time, police search premises belonging to the three
organisations. (The Post).

NOVEMBER 25: Six journalists working for the state-owned media
are suspended indefinitely pending an investigation into
allegations that they had conspired with the ZIMT to discredit
the outcome of the elections. Former ZIMT Vice-President,
Isaac Zimba, told a press conference on November 24 that the
six journalists - Zambia Information Service (ZIS) Deputy
Director Nalishebo Mundia, ZNBC Commercial Manager Abias Moyo,
ZNBC Sub-Editor Gershom Musonda, Manager of ZNBC's Radio 2
Charles Banda, News Editor of the ZNBC's Kitwe desk Dominic
Chimanyika, and ZNBC-Television personality Chibamba Kanyama
- were recruited by ZIMT President Alfred Zulu to "project a
positive image of the organisation (ZIMT), and to promote the
ideals of the opposition." Zimba alleged that the journalists
were appointed to the ZIMT board and were each paid a K200 000
(U$ 160) sitting allowance.  Zulu says later that only
Musonda, Banda and another ZNBC reporter, Rosemary Konkola,
were members of the ZIMT board. Musonda denies using his
position at the ZNBC to promote the interests of ZIMT. "I am
a trained journalist who works professionally. When I am at
ZIMT it's strictly ZIMT business and when I am at ZNBC it's
strictly ZNBC business". Musonda believes his suspension was
"politically motivated and probably linked to his membership
of ZIMT". Banda later denies being a member of the ZIMT.

NOVEMBER 26: It is announced that Dean Mung'omba, President of
opposition ZDC party, and two of his colleagues have gone into
hiding out of fear for their lives. Mung'omba had previously
called for the formation of an interim government following
the November 18 polls (The Post).

NOVEMBER 26: US-based human rights group Human Rights Watch
(HRW) urges the international community, in particular the
Paris  Club of donors and the US government, to continue to
pressurise the Zambian authorities with a view to improving
the country's human rights situation. The improvement of human
rights was "integral to good governance" says HRW. The Paris
Club had previously agreed to withhold aid to the Zambian
authorities with a view to achieving "tangible progress on the
governance issue". (HRW)

NOVEMBER 26: Chairperson of Zambia's Electoral Commission,
Judge Bobby Bwalya, threatens to have a journalist arrested.
Reporter for the privately-owned The Post newspaper, Kunda
Mwila, is threatened at the Electoral Commission's office
where he has gone to inquire about delays in the announcement
of election results. "Get out from here before I order your
arrest. The elections are over -- what else do you want?" The
Post quotes Judge Bwalya as telling Mwila, before slamming a
door in the reporter's face. Bwalya later accuses The Post of
lying and "misinforming people". ZIMA Chairperson David
Simpson says: "It is saddening to see persons of the status of
electoral commission Chairperson, Judge Bobby Bwalya, not only
refusing to answer legitimate press queries but also
threatening to have the pressman arrested...". (MISA)

NOVEMBER 28: Police summon Opposition Alliance Chairperson
Rodger Chongwe for an interview in connection with the letter
he wrote to SADC leaders about his organisation's fears that
Zambia might be heading for a coup. Chongwe tells The Post he
will not turn up for the interview because "I have not
committed any offence". (The Post)

NOVEMBER 29: Six police officers arrive at Opposition Alliance
Chairperson Rodger Chongwe's Lusaka home at 17:30, but leave
having agreed to see Chongwe the following day. The officers
return at 21:30 and insist that Chongwe goes with them to
police headquarters. Chongwe, who is joined by prominent
Alliance members including UNIP President Kenneth Kaunda,
refuses to go with the police, who eventually leave the house
after midnight. (The Post).

NOVEMBER 30: Fifteen ordinary and paramilitary police officers
arrive at Opposition Alliance Chairperson Roger Chongwe's
house at 15:00. He is out, attending an Alliance rally. (The

DECEMBER 1: Police raid the home of Opposition Alliance
Chairperson Rodger Chongwe at around 05:00. Chongwe is not at
home. According to The Post newspaper, three paramilitary and
five plain-clothed police officers scaled the walls of
Chongwe's Lusaka home and searched the house, demanding that
Chongwe go with them to police headquarters for questioning.
"They had a search warrant which said they were looking for a
subversive letter," Chongwe's wife Gwenda told The Post. "They
looked everywhere for it, even under the bed, but they did not
touch any piece of paper. "I think they just wanted to pick my
husband and humiliate him. They were not interested in any
letter." (The Post).


This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the
Africa Policy Information Center (APIC), the educational
affiliate of the Washington Office on Africa. APIC's primary
objective is to widen the policy debate in the United States
around African issues and the U.S. role in Africa, by
concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant
information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and


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